April 20, 2007
The United Nations has strict limits on what it can do, argues Shashi Tharoor, because it cannot exceed the political consensus of its leading member states. Shashi, until recently the UN's Undersecretary General for Communications and Public Information, is as well placed as anybody could be to understand such things. But is Shashi right to accept such limits without having in mind alternatives of what the UN should be like? And is the UN any more likely to remain relevant in the 21st century than the League of Nations was in the last, if it cannot independently propose — or even impose — rational solutions on issues as diverse as climate change, nuclear proliferation, middle east peace, energy use, the war in Iraq or the Guantanamo prison camp? A substantial reconfiguration of the institution is clearly called for and I would be amazed if one does not take place within my lifetime. Either way, nevertheless, it was most generous of Shashi to talk with me. I greatly value both his insights and the glimpse he provides into how senior UN officials see the world. Total runtime here of fifty five minutes. Enjoy!